AS a new generation emerges in society, there will be differences that starkly distinguish it from the ones before, marked and influenced by events and conditions of the time.
The current Generation Z, who were born 2005 onwards, are distinct in their aspirations and expectations even from its immediate previous Generation Y.
With today’s highly connected world, the Gen Z — as they are called — developed shorter attention spans, are more visually driven, have higher expectations yet lower thresholds in the face of hardships. They are attributed with being demanding, uncommitted to the common workplace and opinionated.
On the flip-side, Gen Z are also creative, open-minded and accepting as compared to previous generations. They are more socially responsible but due to their comfortable upbringing being raised during good times with heavy exposure to social media, most may find it difficult to handle stress and disappointments than preceding generations.
Instilling these younger generation with mental toughness helps assure that they can thrive later in life. Mental toughness is the inner strength that propels a child to persevere and chase personal goals.
It can help him become curious, proactive, positive and confident in his abilities and interactions.
Kumon instructors Julia Mah Bean Yuen, Jayalashimi V. Gopalan Nair and Azfar Nur Faruqi Sanusi all have seen how their charges develop the children’s own mental toughness over time at their centres.
Mah who has been running her centre for the past 18 years said that Kumon builds confidence in her students as they are able to tackle problems presented on worksheets without much guidance.
“Kumon worksheets are a challenge to the students,” she explained. “When they overcome that challenge, they feel satisfaction, joy and empowerment. Self-esteem, confidence and perseverance is then inculcated.
“It nurtures a student to an advanced level in their subjects, be it Maths or English, which means that they can score in school, they can help other students in school in their subjects.”
Jayalashimi, who has been an instructor for 17 years, said: “I would say self-learning is the main objective for Kumon as it helps students become independent and to self-learn.”
She felt that once students are able to self-learn and attempt their worksheet independently, they have already begun developing their confidence level, self-esteem, discipline and commitment. She said that on an average, a new Kumon student takes about eight months to a year to surpass what he learns in school.
Azfar, a four-year Kumon instructor, concurred: “Some children come in at a low level in ability and self-esteem, perhaps due to roadblocks they experienced at school and they may be left behind.
"As the Mathematics and English problems in the worksheets are appropriate for the students’ individual levels, when they realise they can solve those problems, they feel more confident. It gives them a sense of self-empowerment and helps them handle their emotions when faced with adversity,” Azfar added.
Jayalashimi pointed out that the Kumon worksheets are designed in precision with content that is highly structured.
“From 1954 till today, the worksheets have been evolving according to the development of education policies and programmes from all over the world,” she said.
“So the worksheets today are addressing the students of this generation.”
Kumon is the world’s leading after-school enrichment programme with more than four million students from 50 countries worldwide. It is currently having a free trial campaign where children from four to 17 years old will experience two weeks of free classes. To participate, register your children in any Kumon centre before Mar 17.
■ For terms and conditions, visit www.kumonmalaysia.com or call 1800 881 010.